Teenagers have found a brand-new way to use Google Docs, turning the online word processor into an instant messaging app.
Google's web-based software offers users a complete set of options for documents processing, including a spreadsheet known as Google Sheets and a presentation program known as Google Slides.
In this sense, Google Docs is comparable to Microsoft's popular Office Suite, only it is available primarily online.
However, some teens have started using the program as a makeshift live-chat app, thanks to Google Docs' real-time collaborative function.
How To Turn Google Docs Into A Chat App
In an article featured on the Atlantic, teens shared how they were able to use Google Docs to instantly message each other even during classes.
"We don't really pass physical notes anymore," 15-year-old student Skylar said.
There are several ways people can sneak a chat online using the web-based word processor, according to the students.
One way would be to use the built-in chat function on Google Docs. This feature is not readily available by default. That is why some people might not even be aware that it exists.
- To access it, open a Google document, spreadsheet, or presentation.
- Invite other people to collaborate on the file.
- Look for the names of collaborators in the upper right corner of the screen.
- Click on the names to activate instant message box.
- Type in notes on the text field to chat live.
Another way would be to take advantage of the comment pop-up box, which is located on the right side of documents.
- Open a Google document, spreadsheet, or presentation.
- Highlight text, images, cells, or slides to comment on.
- Look for the "Add a comment" bubble next to the highlighted part and click it.
- Type in a message then click "Comment".
Some students would create a copy of their teacher's Google file and use the comment box to message each other. If their teacher were to approach to see what they were doing, they would simply click on "Resolve" to remove comment thread.
If there are no Google Doc files to collaborate on, students would just create a new shared document and have their friends exchange messages there.
"People will just make a new page and talk in different fonts so you know who is who," Skyler noted.
"I had one really good friend, and we were in different homerooms. So we'd email each other a doc and would just chat about whatever was going on."
Once they are done chatting, teens would click on "Resolve" or delete the document entirely so that there will not be any traces of the conversation.
Dangers Of Secretly Chatting On Google Docs
Youngsters are not only using Google Docs to fool their teachers in school. Some are even using the online office suite to chat with friends in secret, away from their parents' watchful eye.
While most conversations between teens can be considered harmless, the platform can still be used to bully other people.
Bark, a mobile app designed to help parents monitor their children's smartphone use, warned adults about the dangers of kids chatting secretly on Google Docs.
The makers of the app said teens would often gang up on another kid by writing hurtful things about them on shared documents. Others would also create "burn books," where they would ask others to join in on the bullying.